Learn from Legends: How to Maximize Your Day

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka.

We all get 24 hours a day, evenly distributed to 1440 minutes and further divided into 86,400 seconds. This is constant for every human, nothing less, nothing more.

How we use our time, however, is unique to each individual. Some people wake up early in the morning, and by the time it is 1 PM, they have already completed most of their tasks. For others, 1 PM is just the beginning of the day.

Hence, it is impossible to simply judge a person’s productivity by how he/she uses their time. Apparently, the belief that only early risers are bound to be successful is a myth.

According to Maverick Foo, some of us function better at night, while others do in the morning. We must therefore figure out individually what works for us

Ironically, even animals show different levels of productivity according to their uniqueness. Ants, for example, show great productivity unique to their species.

Matt Ridley explains this better in his book when he quipped;

In my early days as a writer. I was part of a group, dedicated to helping members grow. We had the culture of tasking ourselves with writing short non-fiction pieces, often with a deadline.

I am an early riser, and so found it easy to write in the wee hours of the morning. A couple of others had their unique time they were more productive. Strangely one of us found it easier waking up at 1 am to write.

However, the strangest among us was a certain individual, who wouldn’t work on his task till a few days before the deadline. 2 days before the deadline, he throws himself into his writing. He would write at a feverish pace, sometimes 10 hours a day. It always marveled the rest of us.

This experience cemented in my mind the fact that each of us is unique and is therefore predisposed to use the times of each day as we deem best. Hence productivity and how it is achieved is highly subjective.

how to be productive

Unique Successful People

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”-Viktor Emil Frankl

There are certain people whose stories are etched into the history of mankind, men and women whose productivity influences our modern world today. Without these people, we can only guess what today would look like.

2 people whose life stories impress me include Steve Jobs and Mahatma Gandhi. Two men decades apart who are different in every way. One a great innovator and the other a civil rights activist.

These two people prove that one thing we all have in common is a 24-hour day, for as long as we live, but our productivity in life is dependent more on our focus and how we use our time to achieve our individual goals.

Steve Jobs

When it comes to productivity and time management, Steve Jobs is second to none. An innovator, and business magnate, this was a man whose achievements transcend time. He is rightfully considered the pioneer of the personal computer revolution.

Where the feats of Steve Jobs are known worldwide, his ability to manage time, focus, manage, and work is legendary. This was a man who was ahead of his time and age. He was way ahead of billions in his ability to use the same resources we all have in common, which is time.  

Steve Jobs a biography written by Walter Isaacson tells the story of Steve Jobs. The book paints him as an icon of inventiveness, one who revolutionized computers, phones, animated movies, and tablet. He mastered the art of setting priority, focusing only on that which he considered important.

There is a simple difference that makes the rich and the poor, and that is the ability to prioritize things. If you analyze the life of poor people you can see that they prioritize trivial things. Things that are not important. And when they don't succeed, they blame people.

Steve Jobs founded one of the most popular and successful companies in his 30s. He did not just do everything in the best possible way but in the best way, he could. It takes time to buildup something useful and adorable. And Steve Jobs knew it well.

Mahatma Gandhi

“An ounce of patience is worth more than a tonne of preaching.”- Mahatma Gandhi

History is rich with stories of great men, warriors, and conquerors. There have been great inventors, and men with wealth so profound, it is unbelievable.

However, there is just a handful who stand out for how they made changes in the face of confrontations with peace.

One such man is Mahatma Gandhi, one of my favorite personalities that have ever lived. He was one of India’s most influential anti-colonialist nationalists. He was a great mass leader who is known worldwide for his anti-violence movements, which he employed to help Indian gain Independence. 

From reading his autobiographyone thing is obvious, he was a tireless worker, and consistent in his pursuit of civil rights both in his county and around the world. The extent of his productivity is linked directly to his power of focus.

He worked even when there were no obvious benefits. And even after recognition all over the world, he remained true to his principles. He was an example of discipline and a man who despite his bodily weaknesses, excelled more in his own strength.

The Life Of Any Successful Person Is Full Of Struggles

Life is full of struggles, and it is one thing all humans have in common. From the rich to the poor, the powerful to the weak, and the elite to the masses, we all deal with one form of struggle or the other.

There is a struggle in almost everything. From when we're a child, we have to learn through struggles. Walking is tough, and running is even more tougher. As we grow, we face a varying degrees of struggles, from the need to live according to a schedule, to learning and solving simple problems at school.

Struggle never stops as that child grows to full adulthood and then to old age and finally death.

Essentially, struggle is an important part of life. In confronting and conquering them, we develop strength and character. We all come to the realization of our talents and abilities over time as we face several levels of challenges.

Zig Ziglar in his book “Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life's Terms” shares his own experience of struggles and how by embracing them, he was able to make lemonades from lemons.

Almost everything that can improve us is tough. The way forward is always uphill. Struggle after all is just a tool, and how you perceive it determines how you handle it.

I have come to see struggle more as a tunnel, one I must pass to anything good I want in life. This mindset has helped me, as I don’t shy away from struggles. The power I have is in my ability to pick my struggle.

Unfortunately, my mindset is not shared by a lot of people. This is purely as a result of the lack of knowledge of what struggle is. They do not realize struggles are allies to greatness. They desire greatness but do not know, they have to pass through a lot of things to be so.

I was an acquaintance once with a person who apparently wanted to learn the guitar. His dream was to play in a big band and travel around the world doing what he loves best. Setting out to pursue his goal of guitaring he soon realized he needed a lot of practice time and discipline to master guitar.

The struggles he had to face became obvious instantly. First, he had to sacrifice an already thinning time to learn. He would have to cut off a whole lot of other activities, some very important, a few not so much. Also, he soon realized it seemed he was starting a little bit late.

Unfortunately, he felt the struggle wasn’t worth his goal. I can remember when he walked up to me to tell me he was no longer interested in pursuing his goal of becoming a guitarist. His story is rather a familiar one.

We are all surrounded by people who at one time or another wanted to play the guitar, play football, etc. However, as soon as problems arise, or the need to sacrifice, they panic. They stop almost as soon as they start. Of course, if we are being honest, we see ourselves in these people sometimes.

Benefit Of Facing Struggles

“Cora, you cannot always keep yourself away from things that hurt you. We all wish we could, but we cannot: to live at all is to be bruised.”― Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent

When you struggle for something, you choose to be defined by that. You want that thing more than anything. And you want to do anything possible to achieve your goal. You undoubtedly show you deserve that thing.

When you work hard, you increase your chances of success. You are a freak about it, showing up every time to do what it takes. An athlete does not get a solid physique by worrying and wasting time. She simply goes to work.

If any man understands what struggle is and how important it is to face it, it is Napoleon Hill. He is reputed for saying “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle". And this is 100% true. Is not it?

I remember walking into a gym for the first time in my life in my early twenties. Written boldly on the banner at the entrance were the words “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”. This statement has stuck with me to date.

For every reasonable gain, there is always a pain to go through it. In most circumstances, pain is a warning from our brain, alerting us to potential damage to our body or mind. However, when it comes to achieving great things, pain is a friend, It means we are doing something right. It means we're making changes required to shape the things. And then there comes a problem with a great solution:

The Problem Of Multiple Options

Today more than ever, we are presented with multiple options for almost anything we want. And I do not mean just products, but also in terms of dreams, and desires.

While this is supposed to be a great thing, but it is also a source of problems.
A lot of people have been burnt, running from one famed advice to another online on how to achieve their goals. There are more people burnt out today from making a decision on what to do with their life than there are from pursuing their goals.

So, how do you in this time and age navigate through the several options that are placed before you in the pursuit of your dream?

The simple answer to that is to always start with a book. One written by someone who has verifiable success in the path you have chosen.

According to John Green, “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”

Books act as maps to our desired destination. You will get great advice, learn the ropes and understand at least by way of knowing all you need to do to get to your destination. A great book is always worth more than the amount you use to buy it.

Using books as the starting point to pursuing your goals works all the time. Irrespective of what you wish to achieve, there are books to guide and assist you.

When I started writing, one of the first things I did was read books. Whatever success I have recorded so far in my career has been largely due to the books I have read. Via learning, I have shrunk the time required to make any success.

And this is the reason why learning is important. When we learn, we change ourselves from the inside out.

Conclusion

So, do you wish to become a more productive person? I have shared with you quite a few secrets.

In short, if you want to be a person you always wish for, figure out the best time of the day when you can be most productive; work hard as much as you can to get it, learn more about it, look at people who have achieved astonishingly great success against all odds, and even if you fail, always get up and work until you get what you want.